Red Flags That You're Going To The Wrong Hairdresser

A great haircut can be a wonderful way to refresh your look and boost your confidence, but a bad haircut can be nothing short of devastating. That's why choosing the right hairstylist (or hairdresser) is one of the most important things you can do as part of your beauty regime. With a great stylist, you won't have to worry about choosing the wrong hairstyle or color — because guess what? A great stylist will always make sure you step out of the salon looking great.

If you've recently felt a little unsure about your hair, you may be wondering if it's time to break up with your stylist for good. We get it — the decision can be daunting, especially if you've become comfortable with your usual hairdresser. So, here are what a few expert hairstylists warn are the most common red flags that your hairdresser isn't the right fit for you

Your hairdresser has no online presence

While you may assume that what happens in the salon is all that really matters, that isn't always entirely true. In fact, if your hairdresser doesn't have a strong online presence, this can be a red flag for a number of reasons. It might mean that your hairdresser doesn't take their job seriously, that they don't have adequate qualifications, or that they are simply hard to get in touch with. 

"These days, hairdressers should not only have an online appointment system but should really be using Instagram to showcase their work," says Ghanima Abdullah, a hair and beauty consultant. "Apart from that, a hairdresser can gain clientele on Yelp by having photos of their work and salon on Google Maps. Hairdressers without any kind of online presence can be more difficult to find. A stylist that doesn't care about having an online presence might also be afraid of having negative feedback posted about them."

Kristina Maccaro, owner of Jersey City's Love Lane Salons, adds: "Social media has become a huge part of the beauty industry and an incredible resource for salons and hairstylists to build their ideal clientele. If a hairstylist or salon is lacking in their online presence or not showcasing work of their own that reflects your hair goals, they might not be a great fit."

Your hairdresser is offended by negative feedback

Let's face it — no one loves hearing that they didn't do a good job. Nevertheless, negative feedback is an important part of growing and learning. And your hairdresser should be able to handle it. By accepting and listening to your feedback, they can learn what you're looking for and help you get the haircut that you really want.

"Many hairdressers avoid having an online presence because they don't want negative feedback to be posted about their business," warns Abdullah. "If your stylist doesn't want to listen to your concerns, how can they style your hair the way you like it? It's probably time to find someone else."

According to Maccaro, any professional stylist should actively seek out feedback — even if it might be bad. "As a colorist and salon owner, I can say with confidence that professionals always strive to have our clients leave happy and stay happy until we see them again," she says. "We're human, sometimes we need to make adjustments to our work. However, if you are aggressive or confrontational, you may not get the solution you are looking for. Be kind but direct when expressing your concerns."

Your hairdresser doesn't take time for a consultation before the haircut

No matter how many times you've seen your hairstylist, they should always make time for a chat before the cutting and styling begins. A consultation is a key part of the communication between you and your stylist, so it's vital that it's part of their routine.

A consultation is also how a stylist can determine how the hair cut will look on you. "Haircuts can look vastly different depending on the head of hair and some just won't work on some people. If the stylist takes a look at you and thinks the haircut will work, they haven't done their job," Abdullah says. "A consultation means asking questions about the condition of your hair. Are you wearing extensions? Do you have bald spots? The stylist also needs to assess the movement of your natural hair to make sure a cut will go well with your hair as it is. Otherwise, you're being done a disservice."

In fact, according to Maccaro, the consultation is so important, it's the foundation of the whole service. After all, every person's hair is different, and your hair needs might also change from appointment to appointment. "Before color is mixed or scissors are picked up, you should feel 100% confident in your hairstylist's plan and ability to achieve your hair goals," she says. "If not, it's time to find a new hairstylist."

The salon feels unclean

When you're looking out for red flags, don't just pay attention to your hairdresser — pay attention to your surroundings as well. While you may prefer a low-key setting with no extra frills, make sure that the salon where you are getting your hair cut is always clean and fresh, at the very least. 

As Abdullah says, trust your instincts about the salon's cleanliness. "If a salon doesn't feel clean, it probably isn't," she warns. In fact, if you don't see the salon being cleaned, it's usually a sign that the tools being used are also dirty. "If your hairdresser isn't sweeping up the hair when done with a client, they are probably not disinfecting tools either."

Maccaro adds that cleanliness isn't just about feeling good — it's about your health and safety, too. "Cleanliness isn't only for appearances, it's also imperative for sanitation reasons," she tells us.

Your hairdresser cuts all of the hair at once without sectioning

Even if you don't know much about professional hair cutting techniques, there is one easy way to tell if your hairdresser doesn't really know what they're doing. When you have your hair cut, pay attention to how your stylist cuts the hair. Do they section your hair off into small, manageable sections? Or do they simply cut around the base of the hair? 

Even if you ask for a blunt cut or you have very fine hair, your stylist should still always use a sectioning technique. This helps them to ensure that your haircut is even and precise, while also ensuring the health of your hair.

As Abdullah puts it bluntly, "If a hairdresser cuts all of a person's hair off at once without sectioning, it isn't a red flag. It's a disaster! This means they have no formal, or even informal, training. Don't leave. Run."

Your hairdresser tries to force a certain style on you

Remember: At the hair salon, you are in charge. Even though your stylist may be the "professional," at the end of the day, it's your hair — and what's in style shouldn't matter. "If you say you don't want your bangs in your eyes, but your stylist is keen on doing it anyway because it's the style, just leave," says Abdullah.

If there's a new style you want to try, don't let your hairstylist persuade you out of it. On the other hand, if your stylist tries to convince you to try a different style but you aren't too sure, you should never feel pressured into doing something you don't want to do. "You should always have a say in the way you look," Macarro tells us. "If a hairstylist is forcing a look on you rather than suggesting something that will flatter you, it's completely valid to feel wary. Ask why this style is being suggested and why it will complement you. Ask why the style you would like is unachievable or why your hairstylist thinks it will be unflattering on you." 

Macarro warns that a stylist who keeps trying to push different styles on you might be trying to avoid a style that they don't feel confident with — in which case, it's time to leave.

Your hairdresser is always advertising discounted prices

While this may not be an immediately obvious red flag to some, it's important to pay close attention to how often your hairdresser advertizes discounted prices on their services. While some discounts are simply a way to promote new services or give back to customers, too many discounts may be a sign that your hairdresser is struggling to get and hold onto clients. While there can be a number of reasons for this, a hairdresser who can't keep their clients is usually a hairdresser who, unfortunately, isn't that good.

"It's okay if your hairdresser has holiday discounts or a free haircut day that's scheduled," Abdullah tells us. "But if you notice that discounts are always on the menu, it means that the salon is strapped for cash. Why might that be? Hair salons make pretty good money, so if there's always a sale going on, it might mean that good work isn't done there."

Your hairdresser seems uneasy during your haircut

One thing you definitely want your hairdresser to be is confident. If you notice that your hairstylist seems anxious or hesitant about your haircut before or during, this might be a sign that they don't have the experience they need to do the best possible job.

"Haircuts take a lot of training and experience," Abdullah tells us. "A salon isn't going to put a person who's fresh out of school on the job. If they are shorthanded and put a person on the job who seems insecure, you should complain politely. If you're not listened to, you should leave."

Uneasiness can come in a lot of forms. If your stylist looks worried, is working very slowly, or even tells you that they're nervous about the hairstyle you've chosen, this is usually a pretty good sign that they aren't ready to be working professionally yet — and it's probably time for you to find a new hairdresser.

Your hairdresser leaves you with a haircut you didn't ask for

Even if your hairstylist does an amazing job, if the final product looks nothing like the hair cut you actually asked for, this is usually a pretty bad sign. After all, your hairstylist's job, first and foremost, is to provide a service for you — and that service is to give you the style you want, not the style that they want.

As Abdullah notes, sometimes, this can happen because of poor communication, so it isn't always a total red flag. "It's a bit tricky when your hair doesn't turn out the way you asked. Stylists take a lot of pride in their work, so if this happens it's usually due to a misunderstanding or a skipped consultation," she says. It can also be a case of the hair cut not looking the way you imagined — even if it is what you actually asked for. "A pixie bob, for instance, is going to look very different on a person who has thin hair as opposed to thick hair and your stylist should tell you if it won't work out upfront," she says. "So if you brought a picture, make sure you receive your free consultation, and everything should work out fine."

Your hairdresser loves chatting – a little too much

A chatty hairstylist isn't always a bad sign. In fact, if you love to chat, this might be a match made in heaven. However, if your hairdresser seems to be more focused on chatting than they are on your hair, your hair cut may suffer.

Plus, for many people, the idea of sitting through an hour of forced small talk is enough to make them never visit the salon again. "The only thing you can do in this scenario is not to respond and just keep your eyes on your phone," Abdullah says. "Some people can talk on and on without any input, but if they are ignored with no eye contact, that becomes difficult." If you feel too awkward making small talk or ignoring your chatty hairdresser, it might be time to start looking for a new stylist who prefers to work in silence.

Your hairdresser doesn't put any serums or heat protectants on your hair

Your hair's health matters — and your stylist should know that. If your hairdresser doesn't take any precautions to protect your hair before stylist, this might be a sign that they haven't received proper training or that you're at a low-quality salon.

"Don't let anyone bring a heat tool near your hair without using a heat protectant first," Abdullah says. "Maybe the stylist is running out of product and trying to skimp. If you're paying for the work, that's a definite no-no."

As Maccaro tells us, your hair might actually become damaged over time if you continue visiting this stylist. "Hairstylists use products to cleanse, condition, moisturize, maintain, prep for styling, strengthen, and protect your hair. Your hairstylist should be, at the bare minimum, using a product with a heat protectant before styling your hair," she warns. "This is especially true after a color service when your hair is more fragile. Every professional hairstylist wants to ensure the integrity of your hair's health."

Your hairdresser gossips with the other stylists during your appointment

Okay, let's face it: We all like to gossip with our colleagues from time to time. But there is a time and a place for office gossip — and it's not when you're dealing with a client. 

If your hairdresser has a bad habit of gossiping with the other stylists while cutting your hair, this can be a red flag. For starters, it can mean that she isn't giving your hair the focus it needs. In addition, it can make you feel uncomfortable. 

Of course, in some cases, overhearing some gossip may be unavoidable. "Believe it or not, some people enjoy hairdresser gossip. If that's not you, you may have to just ignore it and pretend to be intrigued by your phone," suggests Abdullah. "Now you know, though, so it depends if they really rock your hair whether you'll go back or not."

Your hairdresser isn't up to date on modern hair trends

When you step into your salon, you should be able to discuss the latest hair trends with your stylist. For instance, if you read about a celebrity who recently got "French Girl bangs," you stylist should know exactly what you mean. Not only is staying up to date on trends a way for your stylist to make communication easier, it's also a way for them to ensure you always look current and trendy when you leave the salon. After all, no one wants to leave the hairdresser's looking like they've just stepped out of the 1970s.

"Unless you want to look like your parent or even your grandparent, throw a few test questions out first," recommends Abdullah. "Ask your stylist about a few trending styles and see if you can be shown some photographs of the styles that have been done to match. If your stylist just looks confused, leave."

Your hairdresser has a really bad haircut — or unhealthy hair

Some hairdressers may be able to style hair well until it comes to their own — it's usually a pretty bad sign if your stylist has unhealthy or poorly cut hair. At the very least, it's a sign that they aren't putting much effort into their personal branding. At worst, it's a sign that they might be doing damage to your hair, too. "A stylist's hair is a form of advertising," Abdullah tells us. "You probably wouldn't eat at a place if the food looks bad. So don't let a stylist with a bad hairdo touch your hair."

Of course, the definition of a "bad" hairdo is subjective. So, we recommend looking for signs of hair damage or bad technique. That way, even if you don't personally like your hairdresser's style, you'll be able to glean whether or not they know how to take care of their own hair.